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Support the Cuban People vs. People to People Travel to Cuba

Updated September 7, 2023

As you've probably heard, The White House has enacted new Cuba travel restrictions for Americans. One of these restrictions has officially ended the People to People travel category. But what does that mean for you? What is a "category of legal travel"? Can you still travel to Cuba as an American? Has Support for the Cuban People been affected? What if you've already booked a trip under the People to People category? 

We'll answer all those questions and more below.

Why? What's the difference between People to People and Support for the Cuban People?

  • People to People was meant to foster educational dialogue. It was primarily used by guided tour companies and cruise lines. And again, as of June 5, 2019, you can no longer plan trips under the People to People category.
  • Support for the Cuban People is meant to enable travelers to support the Cuban populace. It is used by independent travelers to Cuba. You can go on your own as long as you follow the guidelines for the category. Support for the Cuban People has NOT been affected by the June 2019 policy changes.

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What if I already planned my trip under People to People? Can I still go?

Yes! If you planned your trip to Cuba under the People to People category before June 5, 2019, you are exempted from the new regulations and your plans will not be affected. See the current US government OFAC FAQ for more info.

So I can still travel to Cuba legally under Support for the Cuban People? Even after June 5, 2019?

Yes, absolutely! Your trip will fit into the Support for the Cuban People category if you:

  • Support independent activities that could strengthen civil society in Cuba.
  • Avoid all GAESA-owned (military-owned) businesses. Here is a complete list of organizations that you must avoid. You cannot spend money or interact with any of them.
  • Engage in "Support for the Cuban People" activities consistent with a “full-time schedule.” Much like when you’re working, you have to follow the rules during your full-time schedule, but you’re more free to choose your activities outside of that full-time obligation. Support for the Cuban People activities include:   
    • Meeting with local artists, musicians, tobacco manufacturers, farmers, and others who own their own businesses.
    • Shopping in independent markets.
    • Exploring independently run museums.
    • Taking classes on subjects like dancing, traditional music, and Spanish language.
    • Talking with musicians at a live music venue.
    • Attending art shows and learning about different Cuban artists.
    • Discussing Cuban society with locals like your casa particular host or people you meet while out and about.

local man playing instrument in cuba

You'll just need some documentation to make sure your trip follows the rules.

Just make sure you keep your receipts for five years after your trip. Bring an envelope with you to collect them all as you go and then put it away with your important documents when you get home.

An itinerary for your trip is helpful, but not required. If you have an itinerary it will be much easier to make sure you’ve filled a full-time schedule with appropriate activities. And even more importantly, if you’re ever questioned about your trip, you’ll be able to hand over a copy of your itinerary to help things go smoothly.

A ViaHero itinerary will cover your whole trip and show you which activities on it qualify as Support for the Cuban PeopleGet started

Some example activities from OFAC include:

  • Staying at a casa particular and having breakfast with your hosts each morning to learn about their lives.
  • Volunteering with independent groups to do something like work in a school for underserved Cuban children.

Get help planning your trip under Support for the Cuban People.

If you'd like any help planning your trip, a local expert in Cuba can plan out as much or as little of your trip as you'd like, all while helping to ensure that your itinerary complies with the Support for the Cuban People category. Find a local

What kind of traveler are you?
Let’s face it. People want different things when they travel. Rather than spending hours sifting through blogs and top 10 lists written by people who may have totally different interests than you, why not start by sharing a little about what’s important to you when exploring a new destination?
Select your travel preferences below and let a local travel planner with ViaHero take it from there. Your personalized Cuba recommendations, itinerary, and maps are just a few clicks away.

Is there anything else I need to do before I go to Cuba?

Buy a Cuban Tourist Card. This is a requirement of the Cuban government. People from most countries need one, not just American citizens. If you're traveling directly from the US, your card will be pink. If not, your card will be green. The simplest way to get your Cuban Tourist Card is to purchase it online in advance, but most airlines that fly to Cuba also offer Tourist Cards for sale. Call your airline for more information, ask a Cuba Hero, or check out this detailed guide to purchasing a Tourist Card.

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Still have questions about travel to Cuba?
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